Tarleton State edges Southeastern, 14-13
HAMMOND, La. – The reigning Southland Conference champion Southeastern Louisiana University football team came out on the wrong end of a 14-13 defensive struggle versus Tarleton State in its nonconference finale Saturday afternoon at Strawberry Stadium.
In a game that featured no scores for nearly three straight quarters, SLU (0-5) pulled within one on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Zachary Clement to Darius Lewis with just over five minutes remaining. However, the tying PAT was mishandled and the visiting Texans (4-1) were able to run out the clock from there.
Southeastern outgained Tarleton State, 410-203, but committed three turnovers and came up empty on three red zone possessions.
Saturday’s contest was the finest effort to date for the Lion defense, limiting a Texan offense that was averaging over 50 points a game versus FCS competition. Herman Christophe IV led SLU with 10 tackles, while Coryell Pierce contributed seven stops and a sack. Tyrone Legette recorded his second interception of the fall for the Lions, as he and Markell Linzer were each credited with two pass breakups.
Eli Sawyer handled the majority of the work under center for the Lion offense, finishing 18-for-29 for 199 yards and two interceptions. Clement led SLU with 70 yards on 11 carries, while also completing four of five passes for 41 yards and a score. Harlan Dixon finished with 100 total yards (29 rushing, 71 receiving) for Southeastern, while Lewis and Bauer Sharp each found the end zone.
Kayvon Britten led the Tarleton State offense with 87 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. TSU’s defensive effort was paced by Jalen Carr and Kyle Taylor with nine tackles apiece, while Blake Smith had a pick six for the Texans.
After Southeastern forced a Texan punt to open the game, TSU scored on the Lions’ first offensive possession. Smith stepped in front of a Sawyer pass and returned the pick 23 yards for a touchdown and an early 7-0 lead.
SLU answered on its next drive. On a fourth-and-short inside the red zone, Sharp broke through the line and raced in for a 19-yard touchdown run to knot the score at 7-7 with 7:55 remaining in the opening quarter.
A big hit on Jacob Logan by Taylor resulted in a Keldric Williams interception to end the next Southeastern drive near midfield. Five plays later, Britton streaked in to the end zone from 15 yards out to give TSU a 14-7 lead with 53 seconds left in the opening period.
Southeastern drove deep into Texan territory on the opening drive of the second quarter. However, on fourth-and-short from the TSU 10-yard line, Sharp was stopped and the Lions were turned over on downs.
After the two teams traded punts, SLU appeared to tie the game. KK Reno stripped TSU quarterback Victor Gabalis and returned the fumble 40 yards for the apparent tying score. After a lengthy review, the call was overturned and it was ruled an incomplete pass. Later in the drive, Legette stepped in front of a Gabalis throw to thwart the Texan drive.
Southeastern was poised to get points on its final march of the second quarter. The drive stalled just inside the red zone, but Riley Callaghan’s 35-yard field goal try missed wide left and the Lions went into the break trailing by seven.
The Lions again had a scoring opportunity on its first drive of the third quarter. After moving into the TSU red zone, Clement was stripped on a keeper by Steve Albert Jr., who pounced on the loose ball at the Texan 20-yard line.
The two teams traded punts for the next seven drives before SLU finally found the end zone to cap a nine-play, 68-yard drive, but couldn’t convert on the game-tying extra-point try. The TSU pair of Britten and Derrel Kelley III grinded out three first downs to sap Southeastern of its remaining timeouts. Facing a fourth-and-one from just inside Lion territory, the Texans went for it and Britten surged forward for a four-yard gain to ice the win.
After two straight home games, Southeastern will return to the road, traveling to No. 8/9 UIW for a 4 p.m. Southland Conference contest Oct. 7 in San Antonio, Texas. The game will be televised on ESPN+ and can be heard live on the Southeastern Sports Radio Network (Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM, The Boss 103.7 FM/WFPR 1400 AM).
Single-game tickets for the 2023 home football season, which continues with visits from Lamar (Oct. 14), McNeese (Nov. 4) and Nicholls (Nov. 18) are available online at https://vivenu.com/event/2023-football-2klkar.
TSU – 14 0 0 0 – 14 (4-1)
SLU – 7 0 0 6 – 13 (0-5)
TSU – Smith 23 interception return (Guzman kick), 12:05
SLU – Sharp 19 run (Callaghan kick), 7:55
TSU – Britten 15 run (Guzman kick), 0:53
SLU – Lewis 9 pass from Clement (Callaghan kick failed), 5:17
TEAM STATISTICS TSU SLU
FIRST DOWNS 15 22 RUSHES-YARDS (NET) 38-140 40-170 PASSING YDS (NET) 63 240
Passes Att-Comp-Int 23-9-1 35-22-2
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS 61-203 75-410 Fumble Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0 Kickoff Returns-Yards 0-0 1-22 Punt Returns-Yards 0-0 1-7
Interception Returns-Yards 2-23 1-0
Punts (Number-Avg) 7-39.4 4-37.8
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1 Penalties-Yards 0-0 6-47
Possession Time. 25:35 34:25
Third-Down Conversions 6-for-15 7-for-15
Fourth-Down Conversions 1-for-1 2-for-3 Red Zone Scores-Chances 1-1 2-5
RUSHING: TSU – Britten 18-87, Kelley III 16-71, Gabalis 1-(-7), TEAM 3-(-11). Totals – 38-140. SLU – Clement 11-70, Graham Jr. 9-37, Dixon 11-29, Sharp 4-23, Jackson 4-21, Sawyer 1-(-10). Totals – 40-170.
PASSING: TSU – Gabalis 8-21-1-62-0, Greek 1-2-0-1-0. Totals 9-23-1-63-0. SLU – Sawyer 18-29-2-199-0, Clement 4-5-0-41-1, Lewis 0-1-0-0-0. Totals – 22-35-2-240-1.
RECEIVING: TSU – J. Smith 3-38, Omayebu 2-13, Britten 2-6, Miller 1-4, Kelley III 1-2. Totals – 9-63. SLU – Dixon 6-71, Lewis 5-49, Lorio 4-35, Sharp 3-43, Hill 2-31, Hugley 1-8, Graham Jr. 1-3. Totals – 22-240.
A – 3,249.
- < PREV THREE TAKEAWAYS: Tulane battles through less than its best to beat UAB
- NEXT > LSU defense fails miserably in loss to Ole Miss